The Truth about Working from Home


When I started my home-based business, I was inspired by the many articles touting the benefits of self-employment for mothers. However, reality can be pretty different than ideals, so I would like to come right out and dispel some of the commonly-held falsehoods about self-employment:

The lie
You can save on childcare. Yeah right. Try getting work done with a kid on your lap tapping happily away on your keyboard, or pulling the pots out of the kitchen cupboard. Even when they’re sleeping, you never know if they’ll wake up in five minutes or two hours. The result – pressure! This does not yield high-quality results.

The truth
Get a babysitter, or a nanny. Or consider daycare. Better that they spend a few hours under someone else’s care and that you really get your work done, than that you spend all day trying to get your work done, but never really finish it and always feel unaccomplished and edgy.
The lie
A home-based business means you can work less and earn more. I quickly realized that I was spending more time on my business than I did when I was a part-time employee. That is because when you run a business, you wear all the hats. You are responsible for accounting, marketing, client management, etc. And there are no paid vacation or sick days. You work – you get paid. You don’t – nada.

The truth
Be prepared to put a lot of time into your business, particularly if your start-up resources are scarce. If you are a one man/woman show, your failures are your business’s failures.

The lie
Creating a cozy home office allows you to separate your work life and home life. Maybe this is the case for people who live in sprawling homes with rolling green lawns. But for those who live in cities, or in Europe or the Middle East, housing standards are different. For example, families with many children often live in apartments with only a few rooms. And when I say rooms, I mean bedrooms and one multi-purpose kitchen/living room/dining room. No family room with crackling fireplace. No den. No basement. So where exactly are you going to put your cozy little office? In the bathroom?

The truth
Be prepared to work in your bathroom. Or your bedroom. I know someone who changed one of their bathrooms into an office. I personally worked for two years in our bedroom perched on the corner of a tiny desk. The work/family separation thing? Really difficult to maintain when you’re working out of your bedroom. Or bathroom.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m a big believer in self-employment. I love running my business and watching it grow. I get a great feeling of accomplishment from it, and I do have greater flexibility and can rearrange my schedule as needed, i.e. by working in the evening when the kids are sleeping. But preparedness is a key factor in your success.

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